For Ethnic Adviser Ladan Jennings, coming to Synod 2008 was a chance to reunite with her two mentors, Rev. Lynn Likkel, Classis Grand Rapids East, and Rev. Eleanor Rietkerk Classis Pacific Northwest.
Both Likkel and Rietkerk were pastors of Mill Creek (Wash.) Community Christian Reformed Church when Jennings came in for a Christmas candlelight service in 2001.
Jennings, an Iranian American, had become a follower of Jesus after hearing John 3:16 on television and felt led into the church building, she said. She was welcomed into the life of the church, and in time she and her family were baptized.
In 2003, Likkel had to leave Washington. According to Jennings, at their last Bible study together Likkel gave her a hug, and Jennings felt a strange jolt that made her fall back. She said she heard and felt these words in her mind: “You will follow her.” She was confused, but later when she hugged Likkel goodbye, the same thing happened.
The next week, Jennings went to Rietkerk, the senior pastor of Mill Creek Community Church. “I said, ‘I don’t know how to say this, and this seems really strange, but God has called me to assist you and the church,’” Jennings said.
“I didn’t know where to crawl,” said Rietkerk. “I had never had anyone say that to me before.”
Rietkerk and Likkel helped Jennings enroll at Fuller Theological Seminary. She has since completed her degree and the requirements for candidacy in the Christian Reformed Church, with her mentors’ help through the process.
Jennings will be working as a pastor of her home church, alongside her mentor, Rietkerk.
“I’ll always call you pastor,” Jennings told Rietkerk and Likkel. “You two modeled this for me.”